When a mother is expecting a baby, she’s excited and looking forward to the miracle of safely carrying and bringing a life into the world. A little human being that she made and carried for 9 months. She’s looking forward to raising this little person and moulding them into a successful responsible adult. And not just her. A baby is a family and society affair and we must do everything we can to have them brought into the world safely.
It is therefore heart breaking when a mother’s dreams are shattered by the death of her infant at or around birth. It is a blow to her family and to society if it is the mother herself who dies during child birth.
These two scenarios, sad as they are, are quite common in our country. Statistics for maternal and infant health issues in the country and especially in marginalized areas are sobering. One death is one death too many and we are still losing mothers and babies around the country due to preventable reasons during pregnancy and birth. And because these deaths are preventable with good healthcare, this makes the deaths completely unnecessary. Thousands of children across the country are left to grow up without mothers due to maternal mortality. These numbers obviously highlight a severe problem, and the need to close the glaring gap in provision of maternity health services.
As much as the bulk of ensuring good health to citizens as part of their constitutional rights falls on Government, private sector also comes in to contribute where there are short falls. And they are many.
Mpeketoni and King Fahad hospitals in Lamu County for example have benefitted from a KES.18.8 million Safaricom Foundation funded health project. The initiatives are part of the Foundation’s maternal and child health programme whose aim is to increase access and uptake of quality health services for mothers and newborns.
As part of the project, the Foundation will renovate and equip the High Dependency and Newborn unit at King Fahad County referral hospital. The Foundation has also constructed and equipped a maternal and child health unit at Mpeketoni hospital.
The hospitals were furnished with equipment such as oxygen machines, baby scales, phototherapy machines, baby warmers and other medical equipment to increase access to quality healthcare.
Additionally, Safaricom Foundation will be funding provision of nutritional supplements for at least 6,000 mothers annually in Lamu County to aid in proper growth and formation of unborn babies.
As part of reproductive health, the Foundation also announced plans to distribute sanitary towels to at least 25,000 girls aged 10 to 19 years in two counties including Lamu.
Safaricom Foundation’s maternal health programme was launched last year and so far, Counties in the Coast and Rift Valley regions have benefited from it. Under the programme the foundation set aside KES 132 million to promote maternal, newborn and child health services around the country.
In Lamu, a maternal shelter in Witu and a newborn unit in Faza Island were constructed and equipped and are currently serving over 2,000 people. In Mombasa County, the newborn and maternity units at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital has been renovated and equipped.
Meanwhile in Uasin Gishu, the newborn unit at Moi Teaching and Referral hospital and the maternity wing at Moiben Sub-County hospital received new equipment from the Foundation to improve service delivery.